Sunday, 13 July 2014

The Coal Whipper of Bromley

In the 1862 marriage register of Sts Peter and Paul Bromley the father of the bride one William Hunt is described as a coal whipper.
Coal Whippers were employed in the Port of London to discharge coal from vessels by carrying baskets from ship to barges. The manner in which they were recruited according to Gladstone's account given to the House of Commons in August 1843 (see Hansard coal-whippers Bill debate August 1843) was by publicans who profited greatly from the practice. Gang leaders were called basket men and relied in most cases on publicans to provide them with both baskets and labour. The conditions of coal whippers had long been a problem for Parliament and the City of London. In 1797 an application was made to parliament and in 1803 the Coal Whippers Act had attempted to prevent publicans from employing men but had been ineffective; in 1807 a strict monopoly placed hiring in the Court of Aldermen. Then in 1831 the House of Commons attempted to influence the publicans domination of working conditions but failed and in 1838 the Commons attempted to have men paid on board ship. After 5 years this had failed to influence conditions.
Gladstone as President of the Board of Trade quoted the number of coal ships unloaded in London by publican recruited labour as:
1841     3690
1842     4000
In 1843 the Coal Vendors Act established a central office of Employment ending the practice of the heaviest drinkers obtaining work from publicans and others. A contemporary description of the London Coal trade can be read here.
Sir Henry Mayhews account of the coal trade of London here also describes the period before the Act.
William Hunt  the coal whipper referred to in 1862 would have witnessed changes in the Pool of London as a result of these long awaited reforms to one of the hardest occupations in the capital.

Sunday, 29 June 2014

The Bromley Kent medical practice of Doctors William Roberts and Thomas Ilott circa 1808

William Child was the town's medical practioner until his retirement in 1807 after William Roberts had joined him in practice. Thomas Ilott who came from Oxfordshire joined Roberts in 1808 ( it is believed).
The practice at this time covered a wide part of what is now referred to as South London and provided medical care to various parishes in the district.
Bromley Archive holds a fascinating glimpse of medical practice at that time as well as a valuable record of households and named individuals close to the rare survival 1801 Census of Bromley transcribed at Kent Online Parish Clerks.
The Archive holds a very large ledger book with 1141 entries and several other items arising from it under reference 617. The ledger is one of four and originally was catalogued as volume C but the label on the spine to denote this has been lost. The pages contain continued references to an earlier account referred to as "B" and carry over to a further volume "D". We therefore have one quarter of the known ledgers of the practice from this period of history.
Illott is named;Roberts is not and the ledger is catalogued as his accounts ledger. Medical practice is recorded in abbreviated medical Latin so a home visit is recorded as "iter" was not charged for and a limited number of recurring treatements are referred to.
The doctors charged one guinea for delivering a child "delivery" and 10 shillings and sixpence for smallpox inoculations. They syringed ears and extracted teeth "dent" and treated fractured bones or dislocations often referred to as reduc. or  medical latin reduco. Their limited range of medicinal prescriptions include pain relief tonics (robor. or roboro) plaster (emp. or emplastrum),drops,linctus,pills,powders,ointments,draughts,mixtures,purgatives and iron tonics or wines.
The doctors were contracted to provide care for the poor of several parishes including Cudham,Hayes,Keston,Knockholt and Orpington and the established tradesmen of the town and various parishes are named. Large households from Chislehurst, Downe,Keston,Leaves Green and Wickham are featured and patients in London,Newington and Dulwich are included.
Notable and titled householders including the Attorney General (Sir Vicary Gibbs) and the wife of the poet Lady Byron were attended by Doctor Ilott. In the collection of practice material under reference 617/25 a letter from Lady Byron from Hastings mentions her health and that of a daughter. She had at the time separated from her husband George 6th Baron Byron and stayed for a time in Beckenham with her daughter Ada. The practice has a loose account under reference 617/8 for Lord Byron who was the poets cousin George Anson Byron and the successor to the title on the poets death in 1824.
The neglected record provides a link to Bromley's census householders and named servants enable a picture to form of households of notable townspeople and families in surrounding parishes.
Under terms of an agreement between Bromley Archives and Kent Online Parish Clerks I will be transcribing this valuable record for online publication during 2015; the resulting index will also be available electronically for searchers at the Archive. The ledger has not been microfilmed.

Tuesday, 13 May 2014

Settlement records for Bromley

Bromley Archives record of the month for May 2014 feature settlement records. These often neglected record sources can be very useful in researching seventeenth century persons onwards as despite repeal of the Settlement Act in 1834 the principle of settement remained until 1876.
Settlement can be defined as a legal right to Poor Relief arising out of a settled place of abode. The 1601 Poor Law Act laid out that a person was legally a settled inhabitant of a parish after abode for one month, so that Parish vestries began to operate an unofficial system of refusing relief to paupers who had settlement elsewhere.
In the 1662 Settlement Act the principle was established  that anyone entering a township and occupying a tenement worth less then £10 per annum may be removed by parochial Overseers of the Poor acting on the authority of an order made by two Justices of the Peace who had examined the individual on oath. Under such orders constables would escort the person to his original place of abode. If a person managed to stay for forty days he obtained settlement at the new abode.
From 1685  the person was required to submit written notice of residence to the Overseers. However in 1691 the forty days were made to commence from publication of  the notice in the parish church. It is from 1691 therefore that most surviving records of removal begin.
The main records relating to Settlement are:

  • An Indemnity Certificate given to a pauper by his own churchwardens
  • The Examination of a pauper by church wardens or magistrate prior to a Removal Order. This refers to family and circumstances and can contain a great deal of useful biography.
  • The Removal Order,made out in duplicate a copy  for each parish the application made by the Overseer to two Justices of the Peace.
  • Quarter Sessions Records of appeals against removal order,sometimes with a counsels opinion on the matter.
  • Vestry minutes and accounts or correspondence of overseers and constables. 
The Bromley records on display are Examinations of John Barton and William Costin before Justices of the Peace from a volume of Bromley Petty Sessional Division Examinations dating from 1770-1777 which is coincidentally the period of Baptismal Register I am completing as part of my work to publish the complete Parish Register series for Bromley. Settlement records are a useful resource for some ambiguous entries in the Parish Register.
In part I have blogged on these records as a an email enquiry sought to understand what record a catalogue reference referred to. Bromley Archive has various records relating to Settlement including Vestry records for several parishes affected by an individual's Settlement examination and The Justices decisions.

Friday, 2 May 2014

Bromley Baptismal Register 1812-1829

The Baptismal register has two features which are unusual in parish records.
The first is a double decker entry which the Reverend Henry Smith D.D. employs,that is to say that the register number is used for two different persons entry. This was a technical infringement of the requirement to enter a single entry for each individual. Since returns from the Parish Register were required to the Home Office for population totals to be maintained there was a purpose in this legal requirement and since the Reverend Smith had occupied the living of Minister of Bromley since 1785 it is puzzling that in the final two years of his ministry he should develop this spasmodic entry system. He is replaced in 1818 as Minister.
Entries from 1816-1818 are affected.Baptisms on different dates outnumber those on the same date. The Minister of Bromley has a neat hand and is capable of producing very small characters so that all entries are legible. My thought on first encountering such tiny hand writing was that during the Napoleonic wars sailors often produced such miniature hand writing and I wondered whether the Minister had learned the skill from them.
His successor is Reverend James Edward Newell who served as curate previously in the parish. I presume he retired from ministry in 1826 after which date he does not sign the register. He leaves an extraordinary record in the blank pages after the 1829 baptisms are completed.In two pages and "with great care" he provides two tables,the first recording baptisms marriages and burial totals for each year and the second tables analyses by age ranges each event. I have to admire the careful preparation of the data (presumably in retirement) and the value of the record in submitting information for 1831 population details.
The Civil parish of Bromley has population data has been compiled by academic research and  recorded as follows:
1801      2700
1811      2965
1821      3147
1831      4002
1841      4325
1851      4127
1861      5505
1871      10674
1881      15154
1891      21684
1901      27354
1911      33646
1921      35052
1931      43832
Mottingham was an extra parochial area until 1857 ;it became a civil parish in 1866 see civil parish history of Mottingham
Both of these aspects of the register are leading to a revision of the Bromley Archives catalogue entry.
The transcripts now complete are joining my other transcript work for Bromley Bromley Transcripts Kent Online Parish Clerks.

Wednesday, 30 April 2014

Fellmonger of Bromley

The fellmonger is an ancient occupation and dealt in hides and skins (especially sheep skin) and was also involved in preparation of skins for tanning. The references to a leather trade in Bromley in the trades or professions column of the Bromley parish registers from 1813 would explain why Robert Durling is described as a fell monger.
I first encountered fell mongers in research in Lincolnshire and there is an excellent illustration of local feel mongers at Bourne in the Bourne Archive see Fellmongery in Bourne Licolnshire
The ancient guilds or companies of skinners and glovers were associated with fell mongers who belonged to one of the most ancient guilds or companies and the restrictions that these imposed by their bye laws led in 1835 to the Municipal Corporations Act 1835 (5 7 6 Wm.IV.,c.76.) sometimes known as the Municipal reform Act an Act of Parliament that reformed local government in England and Wales.
The Company of Fellmongers in richmond Yorkshire is a reformed company in recent times and their heritage is described at Company of Fellmongers website

The Higler of Bromley Common

The Common has its spile and bavin makers, hawkers pedlars and other descriptive occupations for the travellers.
An  1829 entry in the Bromley parish register of Baptisms gives John Ballard the occupation of Higler. In other parts of the country this is spelled Higgler.
The clergyman responsible for this entry also spells maltster as malster so allowing for his spelling we can say the John was someone who bartered goods and therefore haggled which gives rise to the occupational name. Whilst I have transcribed the parish register volumes for Bromley I have not encountered another higgler in the parish.
In the 1820's the Common had been enclosed but a large part of the settled hamlets at Barnet Wood and Skim Corner which can be traced to medieval houses were occupied seasonally by travellers.
The gypsy and traveller population of the commons areas to the south east of London and all of what is now the London Borough of Bromley from the medieval  parish records is emerging in the Kent Online Parish Clerks collections. There is a clear history of seasonal settlement resulting in permanent residence from the 19th century onwards. An examination of parish burial records discloses the traditional brick lined grave for Romany burials and the modern borough has designated areas for traveller families. Although some of these have been closed ( Green Street Green) and redeveloped by the local authority there remain many local residents who can trace Romany and traveller ancestry.

Monday, 7 April 2014

The 1801 Census of Bromley

I undertook transcription of the rare survival 1801 census in 2013 at Bromley Archive. My transcript has been been online at Kent Online Parish Clerks see 1801 Bromley census. Bromley's population in 1801 is 2700 people.
Prior to the census taken on the 10 day of March the parish was asked to make another return from its registers.
The census reflects those who provided the census information  Henry Smith, D.D., Minister; Edward Latter, Vestry Clerk; John Pepper and L. Ashworth, Churchwardens; Samuel Floyd and [given name illegible] Chalkley, Overseers.
The Home Office stated "A correct return of the Baptisms,Burials and Marriages of the year 1800 is peculiarly requisite,as being the connecting Link of the series of Parish Registers with the Enumerated Population of 1801 and subsequent Enumerations.
The draft form has been left inside the flap cover of the bound Bromley Composite Register number one which covers the years 1558-1715 for some events. The form requires the number of Baptisms Burials and Marriages for three year clusters for:
1569
1570
1571  for which only baptisms survive.
1599
1600
1601
1629
1630
1631
1669
1670
1671
1699
1700
1701
1749
1750
1751
1800

This crude sampling of population shows the town was growing slowly, however against this growth trend there are a number of distortions. Present within the ancient Parish were a significant number of travellers particularly on Bromley Common. The burial register reflects also a number of deaths from those staying at the Bell and White Hart Inns which were large stage coaching Inns on the 10 mile road to London Bridge to the north and Tunbridge ,Tunbridge Wells and Hastings to the south east. in addition nurse children (including children identified from the Foundling Hospital in London) are introduced to the parish and baptismal registers include adult baptisms and reflect baptism of Londoners often so described. There is therefore a shifting non resident population as well as residents of the town.
The three year clusters do not reflect the years of highest death rates during epidemics. Bromley records plague deaths more than 20 years before the Great Fire of London.
Bromley appears to have been a relatively slow growing population in a rural market town on a major coach staging a short distance from the city of London. It was not until the coming of the railway that large growth appeared much later.
The civil War touched Bromley but there is no record of any conflict in the town; the upheaval centred on evicting the Bishop of Rochester from his Palace and the installation of Puritan clergy as Ministers. Eventually the Bishop returned to the Palace and the registers return to normality with  little disruption.